Steve Earle: Just an American Boy (2003)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

In the fall of 2002, singer, songwriter and political activist Steve Earle released an album of songs written in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, entitled Jerusalem. One of its songs, "John Walker's Blues" -- written from the perspective of John Walker Lindh, a Muslim from America who was discovered fighting alongside Taliban forces -- triggered off a flurry of controversy, and Earle found himself having to defend his views, his patriotism, and his right to free speech in the press. Steve Earle: Just an American Boy is a documentary which follows Earle as he tours in support of the Jerusalem album, speaks to journalists about his songs and the looming war in Iraq, writes and directs his first play (Karla, a dramatization of the life and death of Karla Faye Tucker, the first woman ever to be executed by the Texas penal system), discusses his outspoken opposition to the death penalty, and, with his band, shows why he's become one of the most critically acclaimed singer/songwriters of his generation. Steve Earle: Just an American Boy was directed by Amos Poe, who previously helmed the groundbreaking document of New York's nascent punk rock scene, Blank Generation.
Documentary , Musical & Performing Arts
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Cowboy Pictures


Critic Reviews for Steve Earle: Just an American Boy

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (7)

Decidedly low-tech and not always particularly coherent or cohesive.

December 12, 2003
Washington Post
Top Critic

While the film's coziness toward its subject is ultimately frustrating, it does provide a welcome portrait of one of the music industry's genuine and rare iconoclasts.

December 10, 2003
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Even for a big fan like me, parts of this documentary (especially musical performances) just go on too long.

Full Review… | December 4, 2003
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Earle's song introductions, like those of his mentors Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark, are as meaty, pointed, and touching as the tunes themselves, and his spoken words -- full of humor and humanity -- are the heart of the film.

Full Review… | November 28, 2003
Boston Globe
Top Critic

A mediocre music documentary.

November 7, 2003
New York Post
Top Critic

A crude but stirring video documentary.

November 6, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Steve Earle: Just an American Boy

Not overly ambitious in scope this film doesn't try to be definitive in any way but it does give a glimpse at Steve Earle during the Jerusalem tour and addressing the controversy over his ballad to John Walker Lindhn, 'John Walkers Blues. We also get to see Steve on stage and on the road with his son who has become an acclaimed artist in his own right. The video of the performances isn't exactly quality but it does include a powerful rendition of 'Billy Austin, Steve's anti death penalty song. More of a snapshot than a chronicle but enjoyable enough.

Steve Smith
Steve Smith

I couldn't bear giving this less than 3 stars just because it is Steve Earle, and the guy's work has never been about "smooth and polished," but always about emotional intensity, uncompromising artistic integrity and thought provoking lyrics. That comes through here to some degree, but not much. I agree with James Paul, "good content cannot out-weigh a bad sound mix, poor editing and video effects that range from middling to terrible."

Michael Toler
Michael Toler

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